Women Speak Out! A Report of the Pacific Women's Conference. October 27 – November 2
I want to ask a question to all the women from the other islands. A very important question in Tahiti is religion. Nearly everybody is religious, either Catholic or Protestant, or Mormon. The more important religion is Protestantism, and the Catholics coming after, Adventists next and the Mormons. I want to know if the pastors and priests in your islands have taken a position socially on economics and politics? In Tahiti we have a very special problem whic is the bomb, and we should like to know if, in your countries, your pastors and your priests take a position in all these subjects.
The time I want to tell you about is when John, my brother, was the deputy in the French National Assembly, and he was against the bomb. As he is a very religious man, (he's Protestant), he thought he would get help from the pastors and even from the Catholic bishop, so he went to see them And that was just to help the Tahitians… So he went to see the Bishop first and the Bishop said: “I can't speak against France because I'm French and I don't want to speak anything against my own government”. So my brother ‘phoned us and said: “Please, can't you do something?” (because I live about 40 miles from the main town of Papeete). “Please, would you try to see the priests in your place because your husband is a Catholic, and ask him (the priest) if he could help us.”
So I went to the priest and after a small talk I began to direct the conversation to nuclear tests and the priest was so afraid to talk about it that he just ran out, forgetting his hat in the house! He was so afraid to say a word about that. So I told my husband what it was and he said that it was a French priest and maybe the bishop had told him not to talk about the bomb. So now there was nothing to do, so I decided to turn to my Protestant pastors.
I was not happy about it because first, they are Tahitians. And so I couldn't understand when the Protestant pastors would not talk about the bomb because I said: “We are women and we are thinking about our children, and you page 21 should think about our children too.” But the Protestant pastor explained to me that they were afraid to talk about it because just a little while before one of the French Protestant priests had talked about and against the bomb and he was sent right away to France. So they were afraid to talk.
That's the question I want to ask you. Why are priests afraid to talk about all these things against the bomb? They represent God and God wants the good of the people, and they should want the good of the people too. And I want to know if this is the same in your countries, if the priests take the same position, and don't want to be involved. This year it's a bit better because the bishop wrote an article in which he says, very vaguely, I must say, a little against the atom bomb. And the Protestants are talking a little bit more. But I must explain that I didn't know about the South Pacific Bishop's meetings (the World Bishops Conference, Vatican, August, 1975) in which the bishops decided against all these things. So the Bishop in Tahiti had to write something about this and say something, but it was very, very mild.
But I didn't realise about the conference because in Tahiti we have no contact with the outside world. They cut it off. Everything is turned to outside, to Europe.
But this doesn't mean that I'm no more Protestant. I'm still a very good Protestant and my husband is still a very good Catholic because the religion is God's; the pastors and priests are human beings.